Environmental Science Lecture Outline

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Chapter 01
Lecture Outline
William P. Cunningham
University of Minnesota

Mary Ann Cunningham
Vassar College


Copyright © McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.

Understanding Our Environment



Current Conditions
Historical Perspectives
A Divided World
Sustainable Development
Indigenous People
Environmental Ethics
Environmental Justice
Environmental Racism


Humans have always inhabited both a natural world and a social world.

Environment Circumstances or conditions that surround an organism or group of organisms
 Complex of social or cultural conditions that affect an individual or community



Environmental Science is the systematic study of our environment and our proper place in it

Interdisciplinary and Integrative:
- Natural Sciences
- Social Sciences
- Humanities
Focused on understand and resolving environmental problems humans have created.

Many kinds of knowledge contribute to our understanding in Environmental Science


Current Conditions
Human Population is > 7 Billion
 Climate Change: burning fossil fuels causes global climate change.
 Hunger: food is inequitably distributed across the globe and 2/3 of agricultural lands show signs of degradation.
 Clean Water: may be the most critical resource in the 21st century.
 Energy: fossil fuel use causes pollution, there is a shift to using more renewable energy resources.  Biodiversity Loss: species are being lost at a rapid rate.
 Air Pollution: air quality has worsened
dramatically in many areas.

Signs of Hope
Progress has been made on many fronts.

Population & Pollution: Many cities are more livable today than a century ago due to human birth rate stabilization and clean technology use. Health: Incidence of life-threatening diseases has been reduced in most countries.
Information and Education: Expanding access to knowledge is essential to progress.
Sustainable Resource Use and Habitat Conservation: Tropical forest destruction has slowed & habitat protection has improved in some areas.
Renewable Energy: Progress is being made in the transition to renewable energy sources.
Carbon Markets and Standards: Cap-and-trade programs help limit greenhouse gas emissions.
International Cooperation: Some international environmental protection agreements have been highly successful, while others lack enforcement. 8

Historical Perspective
Over time there were four distinct stages
 Pragmatic Resource Conservation
 Moral and Aesthetic Nature Preservation
 Concern about Health and Ecological Damage
 Global Environmental Citizenship
These stages are not mutually exclusive and parts of each persist today in the environmental movement.

Stage 1. Pragmatic Resource Conservation

George Perkins Marsh - Man and Nature published in 1864
- Influenced Theodore Roosevelt and his conservation advisor, Gifford Pinchot.
- Pinchot’s policy was one of
 Pragmatic Utilitarian Conservation
 “For the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time”
 Reflected today in the Multiple Use
Policies of USFS

Stage 2. Ethical and Aesthetic
Nature Preservation

John Muir - President Sierra Club
 Nature deserves to exist for its own sake regardless of degree of usefulness to humans.
 Biocentric Preservation – “Why ought man to value himself more than…the one great unit of creation.” He opposed Pinchot’s view.

Aldo Leopold –
 A student of Pinchot’s
 Authored “The Land Ethic” – “we abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.”


Stage 3. Modern Environmental Movement
The industrial expansion after WW II added new concerns to the environmental agenda.
 Rachel Carson---awakened the public to the environmental threat posed by pesticides in her book
Silent Spring (1962)
 David Brower—introduced the use of litigation,